Part 2A shows that a distinction between Bible reading and Bible study makes common sense. Part 2B teaches that a comparison between Paul’s advice to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:13 contrasted with 2 Timothy 2:15 establishes that Bible reading is not Bible study. 

1 Timothy 4:13, which falls within the larger text of 1 Timothy 4:6–16, reads:

13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading [anagnōsis] of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.

The greater block of text instructs Timothy how the gospel should shape him to proclaim truth to the congregation.  In addition to his study and carrying out an exemplary lifestyle, Timothy is to carry out “the public reading of Scripture.”  The Greek noun anagnōsis is translated  “to … public reading”, and it means to read something written wherein the reading is typically done aloud to involve verbalization.  See Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 396). New York: United Bible Societies.

Paul’s instruction in Colossians 4:16 (ESV) reveals that the church publicly read Scripture:

16 And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea.

The text infers that the recipients understood Scripture when read aloud.  See ESV Study Bible (2001), Crossway Bibles, Wheaton, IL 60189, at p. 2300. 

By 1 Timothy 4:13, Paul advises Timothy to read the Scripture to convey information.  While comprehension could result, it seems to be for more informational purposes than to gain an in-depth understanding.  Therefore, anagnōsis correlates to Bible reading.

In contrast to Bible reading, Paul instructs Timothy in verse 15 of the block of text comprising 2 Timothy 2:14–26 (ESV) as follows:

15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

Paul instructs Timothy as to what is necessary to rightly handle the Word of God so that he would not be ashamed of his efforts at analyzing the Word of God.  The verse begins with the Greek verb spoudazō which has the meaning to do one’s best having a laser-like intensity with a persistent zeal.  Since the verb spoudazō is in the imperative, there is an even greater intensification of Paul’s command to Timothy to be a worker approved by God who is unashamed of his work, i.e., Bible exegesis.

Here, the Greek verb orthotomeō translated to read “rightly handling” means to analyze correctly or cut a straight line.  The verb orthotomeō is also along the lines of the tentmaker who certainly knew how to cut the rough cloth for a tent in a straight line.  See Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament: for the English reader (Vol. 8, pp. 134–136). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.  The logos alētheia or the “word of truth” is rightly handled.  Paul uses the Greek word alētheia for “truth” in an absolute sense to show the difference between what Timothy ought to present, which is correctly exegeted Word of God, and, “ … the false teaching that contradicts and stands over against the word of God, the gospel.”  See Knight, G. W. (1992). The Pastoral Epistles: a commentary on the Greek text (pp. 411–412). Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, England: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press.  Paul’s advice has a direct application today in that anyone must be accurate in delivering the message of truth, which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, without any distortion or perversion.  See Lea, T. D., & Griffin, H. P. (1992). 1, 2 Timothy, Titus (Vol. 34, pp. 214–215). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Another commentator’s advice is “spot on”:

The pastor or teacher must acquaint himself thoroughly with Scripture. He should familiarize himself with historical information and the context of the passage, especially when trying to reach back through the centuries to gain an accurate understanding of God’s revelation.

Larson, K. (2000). I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon (Vol. 9, p. 286). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

It is apparent that for anyone to be a competent exegete of the Word of God whereby he or she thoroughly observes, interprets and applies God’s Word, they must invest much time and prayer and energy in the analysis.  To attain to what Paul called Timothy up to in 2 Timothy 2:15 requires something more than reading but is study.

The above discussion shows that Scripture makes a clear distinction between Bible reading and Bible study. 


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Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version) copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.